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12 most infamous 'criminals' in tech history

July 30, 2013 10:13 IST

12 most infamous 'criminals' in tech history

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Thanks to the creative brilliance of geniuses, technology revolution has transformed the lives of people but ironically a few of them have tried to disrupt this system. 

These hackers are capable of entering the most complicated and efficient systems in the world, destroying files and leaking out classified information.

They are also employed by many countries for brilliant espionage work.

Some of the tech ‘criminals’ have duped thousands of gullible investors, and even got entangled in murder cases. 

Meet 10 of the most infamous tech ‘criminals’ as listed by BusinessInsider…

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Photographs: Reuters

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Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz rise and fall to disgrace has been very ironic. 

In 2013, the year he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, Aaron Swartz committed suicide.

As founder of Demand Progress, he had launched the campaigns against the Internet censorship bills.

Working with Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he helped develop standards for sharing data on the Web. He also coauthored the RSS 1.0 specification, now widely used for publishing news stories.

In 2010, he became a research fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption.

Things took an unfortunate turn when Swartz was arrested on charges, of downloading academic journal articles from JSTOR, a digital library with one of the biggest archives of scholarly literature in the world.

According to JSTOR, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled civil claims against him in June 2011. 

Charged with the violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, he was imposed a maximum penalty of $1 million and 35 years in prison. A depressed Aaron Swartz ended his life in 2013, two years after his initial arrest.

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Image: Aaron Swartz
Photographs: Fred Benenson/Wikimedia Commons.

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Jeffrey Scott Hawn

Jeffrey Scott Hawn, CEO of Texas' Attachmate Group, was charged for criminal mischief for hiring men to kill bisons that strayed into his land at Colorado.

Thirty-two bisons were shot dead.

After months of legal recourse, he agreed to pay $157,000 in fines and $70,000 as donations to animal welfare organisations.

The Attachmate Group is a software holding company based in Houston, Texas. Companies held by the group include Attachmate, NetIQ, Novell and SUSE.

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Image: Jeffrey Scott Hawn (inset)
Photographs: PD-USGov-Interior-FWS/Wikimedia Commons

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Raymond Bitar

Raymond BitarCEO of Full Tilt Poker, an online poker company garnered revenues illegally. 

He was charged with illegal online gambling in 2011.

Though he faced a harsh punishment of up to 35 years imprisonment, it was later waived owing to his heart ailment.

He, however, has to pay a penalty of $40 million.

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Image: Raymond Bitar (inset)


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David Smith

David Smith unleashed the deadly Melissa worm, an email virus that crashed computers around the world.

His malicious design cost the world $80 million in damages. Smith was behind the bars for 20 months.

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Image: A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. David Smith (inset)
Photographs: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

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John McAfee

Founder of the McAfee antivirus company, John McAfee was the first to distribute anti-virus software using the shareware business model.

He hit the headlines in April 2012 when he was arrested by the Belizean Police suspecting possession of illegal drugs and arms. 

Though his house was raided, he was not charged for any offence.

However, he got entangled in a murder case when the Belizean police called him a ‘person of interest’ suspecting his role in killing his neighbour.  

Fearing an arrest, he left for Guatemala. He was arrested in Guatemala for illegally entering the country.

Recently, he produced YouTube video, which ridicules the McAfee anti-virus software company, which is now owned by Intel Corp. 

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Image: John McAfee (Inset)


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Hector Xavier Monsegur

Hector Xavier Monsegur is an American computer hacker and co-founder of the hacking group LulzSec.

LulzSec went on a data stealing spree, seizing user accounts details from Sony Pictures in 2011 and taking down the CIA's website.

After the attacks, it also released passwords from other sites. Federal agents arrested Monsegur on June 7, 2011. 

He then co-operated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and became an informant helping them arrest other unethical hackers.

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Image: A woman uses a computer in an internet cafe. Hector Xavier Monsegur (inset)
Photographs: Nir Elias/Reuters

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Marc Collins-Rector

Marc Collins-Rector co-founded Digital Entertainment Network, an online streaming video broadcaster, one of the pioneering video entertainment sites.

However, the fame did not last long. A failed IPO bid struck the death knell for the company amid allegations that Collins-Rector had sexually abused children, forcing them with drugs and arms. He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was charged with 33 months of imprisonment.

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Image: Marc Collins-Rector
Photographs: Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Wikimedia Commons

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Albert Gonzalez

During his heydays, Albert Gonzalez threw a lavish $75,000 birthday party. Little did the world know that it came from swindled credit cards.

He was the man behind organising the biggest credit card fraud in history. He is accused stealing more than 170 million card and ATM numbers from 2005 to 2007.

Gonzalez and his group of hackers used SQL on several corporate systems to swindle data from internal corporate networks. In 2010, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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Image: Albert Gonzalez
Photographs: US Attorney for New Jersey/Wikimedia Commons

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Samuel Cohen

Samuel Cohen had a lavish style, private jets and accounts in Swiss Banks.

Cohen who held the positions of President, Chairman, and CEO of several public and private video game companies, duped investors of $30 million and was booked on charges of fraud, money laundering and tax evasion in April 2012. 

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

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Image: Samuel Cohen
Photographs: Ellis408/Wikimedia Commons

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Edward Snowden

Is Edward Snowden a whistleblower or a traitor? "I'm neither traitor nor hero. I'm an American,” Snowden describes himself.

While there have been public debates supporting and condemning Snowden, he fled the United States after he was charged with espionage and theft of government property. 

Snowden, a former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) leaked details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance on phone and internet communications to the press.

Snowden defended himself saying his activities were just to inform the public about government’s surveillance activities.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things (surveillance)…I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded," Snowden said justifying his actions.

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Image: Former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong.
Photographs: Reuters

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Paul Devine

Paul Devine, supply chain manager at Apple was charged with fraud and money laundering.

He was found guilty of passing company secrets to Asian suppliers. 

Devine agreed to pay a penalty of $2 million.

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Image: US dollar notes. Paul Devine (inset)
Photographs: Reuters

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Shawn D Hogan

Shawn D Hogan, founder and CEO of Digital Point Solutions, a San Diego-based business software provider was charged with fraud and criminal forfeiture.

In August 2008, eBay charged Hogan and two other men of defrauding the company in a cookie stuffing scheme. Cookie stuffing is an online marketing technique used to make affiliate sales illegitimately.

When users visit the target website and make a transaction, the cookie stuffer is paid a commission. 

eBay paid over $28 million to Hogan as commission, unaware of his fraudulent activities.



Image: Shawn D Hogan.
Photographs: Rustybrick/Wikimedia Commons

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